NORTH OGDEN — Most people in the North Ogden 20th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can’t remember when Delsa Colvin started playing the organ for church services.
That’s because they aren’t that old.
Colvin has held the responsibility as a ward organist nonstop for 70 years. She has been a member of several different wards, but has always had the calling as ward organist.
It’s a feat her bishop, Doug Oler, believes matches a world record. In a news release sent to the newspaper by the ward, Colvin is credited with matching a record currently held by Ida Mae Cumbest of the Caswell Springs United Methodist Church in Mississippi.
Cumbest is 91.
But Colvin is only 82. She started as her ward’s organist when she was 12.
“My mother only taught me for a year, and then I just learned by doing,” she said. “I just evolved. Those poor people when I started out.”
Oler has made a call to Guinness World Records, and this weekend the North Ogden 20th Ward is giving Colvin an award for her many years of contributions.
“It’s time to recognize her lifetime of service,” Oler said. “We are so appreciative of what she adds to our meetings. She has a remarkable gift.”
But Colvin said she kind of doubts that she really holds the record that has spurred so much attention.
“That makes me nervous,” she said. “I recently read in an obituary. Someone said they were the ward organist for 80 years.”
But record or not, there’s something special in the North Ogden 20th Ward when it comes to organ music.
This week when Colvin gave a special organ performance for the young men and young women of her ward, the young people told how much they appreciated their organist.
“She makes it really special,” said Hayden Simmons, a seventh-grader. “She makes you really feel the spirit with how she plays.”
Hayden said Colvin puts a lot of feeling into her performances.
“She definitely brings the sweet spirit when she plays for us,” said Karie Chambers, a 12th-grader.
“We can always count on her to be here and to play the organ,” said 11th-grader Emily Judkins.
Dependability is also what Brian Morris, first counselor in the bishopric at the ward, said he appreciates about Colvin.
“A lot of times, I don’t even look over to see that she’s there,” Morris said. “We just know that she’s there.”
Colvin admitted it takes a lot — besides being out of town — to keep her from her job of playing the organ.
“I’ve played with a broken leg and a cast on my arm. I broke my wrist twice and I played right through it.”
She said some people were surprised at her dedication.
“They’d look at me kind of funny,” she said. “I’d say ‘I can do this or I wouldn’t be here.’ ”
Morris complimented Colvin on being a “wonderful” person.
“She just makes everything feel better,” he said. “It makes the whole building feel good.”
And Colvin said she feels good playing too.
“I have my own way of writing music up in the key that I like,” Colvin said. “Half the music I play I’ve written up in a different key. I just keep playing it.”
And she’s not planning on quitting anytime soon.
“I hope they don’t release me,” she said of her ward organist position. “I’d like to play until I’m gone from this life.”
Besides service to her church, Colvin also has played the organ for, at last count, 490 funerals through Lindquist Mortuary in the past 25 years.
“I have the programs from all of them,” she said. “I saved them all.”
The longtime organist has advice for those who want to follow in her footsteps. Keep the music soft and soothing, she says, even if the audience is loud.
She also advises pausing with the phrases as the congregation breathes while singing, and keeping the tempo up.